Stardust is Superman’s Weirdest Knock-Off

A new two-parter begins today at 1-900-HOTDOG, in which the mad mind of Fletcher Hanks gives us Stardust the Super Wizard, a merciless arbiter of…justice? Vengeance? Let’s just call it punishment. It’s weird! It was always weird! There are kids born in 1930 who have living memories today of thinking this was weird.

Though he might look more like Marvel/Miracleman, Stardust had big Silver Age Superman abilities with Golden Age Superman fighting style, a combination that sounds great until you realize he was more than kind of a fascist. One day I’ll get around to power-ranking the evil Supermen, and while Stardust will medal due to his terrifying power and cruelty, he’s going to remain defined by how bonkers he and his world are.

My mom once told me, back in the single-digit days, that when she was in Catholic school in the ’50s, the nuns said Superman was a bad influence, because he was meant to be a scientific Christ replacement figure. Leaving aside the pig-ignorance of a Christ-type being a bad thing, Ma was the first to tell me if you look at Superman’s origin, he’s much more of a Moses type, of which Christ’s own narrative has emphasized parallels to fulfill covenant.

Well if Supes is Moses, Stardust is the Old Testament God, brutally slaughtering the enemies of His chosen people. In fact, while I was researching this one, I realized Stardust filled a shape I’ve been looking for, for a good long while now, in Indelible, Inc. and I expect he’ll fill a major role there as a cosmic interloper.

What’s odd is that, when not speed-phoning it in, Hanks was actually a great caricaturist and an eerie painter. (It’s kind of odd to see a painting that so closely matches a cartooning style at this point in history.) And while his family’s own account of him is as a terrible person, or at least, a terrible husband and father while grappling with what sounds like catastrophic alcoholism, his kids grew up to be cool and marry well. Look at these life accounts:

It’s always amazing to me how much of the past couple centuries continues to rise up through the internet soup. You can trace connections between so many different parts of culture and history.